April 6, 2018
The following is an excerpted opinion piece by Claudia Cattaneo/National Post, which appeared in the April 5 online edition of the Vancouver Sun:
Alberta Premier Rachel Notley is planning another tour to Toronto and New York to talk up the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion to business leaders.
It’s certainly good exposure for her re-election campaign. It probably won’t change investors’ pessimistic views of Canada’s oil and gas sector.
Here’s the problem. Aside from Canada’s dysfunctional handling of the Trans Mountain project, governments (including Alberta’s) have burdened energy companies with so much new regulation, so many new costs, and are on a path to make regulatory reviews of big energy projects so much more political, investors have tuned out and moved to jurisdictions where governments aren’t kneecapping their companies to meet commitments on climate change.
The message couldn’t be clearer than in the Canadian Energy Pipeline Association’s recent response to Bill C-69, the Impact Assessment Act, introduced by the federal government in February and now making its way through Parliament.
The group warns that instead of restoring trust in Canadian energy regulation, the bill, one of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s priorities, ensures no other major pipeline project will ever be built in Canada.
That’s a bold statement from a lobby group, but no hyperbole. The Alberta-based oil and gas sector is that disillusioned with Ottawa’s relentless energy industry re-engineering.
The group complains that on top of the regulatory “poison” doled out by Canadian governments in the past two years — including the tanker ban off the British Columbia coast, proposed methane emissions regulations, provincial greenhouse gas emissions regulations, B.C.’s restrictions on transporting bitumen, lack of clarity on Indigenous rights — the federal Liberal’s regulatory reforms “double down on the factors that created the toxic regulatory environment for major projects that this regulatory review process was intended to fix.”
Specifically, CEPA says the bill expands reviews to serve the whole buffet of Liberal priorities — climate change, gender-based analysis, Indigenous reconciliation, sustainability tests, making them more rather than less political.
It also sidelines the National Energy Board, which has all the expertise to review big projects, and puts a new agency in charge with no track record and a broadened role to implement the government’s political agenda, CEPA says. Instead of shortening review timelines, as the government promised, the new process extends them to 29 months from 18 months, not including more months required to complete an impact assessment report.
“It is difficult to imagine that a new major pipeline could be built in Canada under the Impact Assessment Act,” CEPA says. “We are concerned that the government has effectively frustrated regulatory reform in order to advance their climate change agenda and has baked broad policy subject matters into an otherwise very technical decision-making process. CEPA does not see anything… that will attract energy investment to Canada.”
Notley’s tour in early May will involve meetings with business leaders, U.S. and Mexican governors, and Canadian premiers.
What’s really needed is a push in Ottawa to send regulatory reforms back to the drawing board so everyone agrees they deliver what was promised: to restore trust in Canada’s regulation of major energy projects.
(Vancouver Sun/National Post)
To read the full column, click here.